Our minds are magnificent liberators. They are also bedeviling oppressors. Much suffering in life is linked to the entrapment of our minds, as we become attached to the pleasurable highs and find the oppressive lows aversive. How can we mitigate the debilitating messages and harness our minds for happiness?

I am working on three strategies. The first is to interrupt the chatter. When the messages seem to be high jacking my thoughts or feelings, I find that a momentary deep breath or a change of activity provides a sufficient time-out to break through the static and allow me to refocus.

The second strategy involves the decision to create a new routine. Research on the brain is finding that a significant percentage of our daily behavior (40%) is habitual. The more the brain can relegate its management of repetitive situations to habit, the more it devotes its energy to paying attention and solving new problems. Two helpful resources for this are Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit and Daniel Goleman’s Focus.

For the past several years I have begun each day with a period of yoga, reading and sitting meditation. That routine has helped me diminish old patterns and pay attention to new potential.

The last strategy is the most difficult to do: let go of outcomes. That isn’t to say let go of dreams, setting goals and advocating for our beliefs. It means that despite our best planning, our most committed effort and our most devoted advocacy, results may turn out differently. Rather than bemoan the loss of what we had envisioned, we have the opportunity to open ourselves to possibilities we had never considered.

Taming the mind is both a daily opportunity and challenge. What strategies are working for you?